If you missed Part One, you're going to want to catch up a bit first. You can access it here.




At some point during the Spring of 2019 I began to realize I didn't actually know who I was anymore. I had spent so many years playing different roles, just doing the next thing that had to get done, that I couldn't even articulate what my own desires, needs, likes, or dislikes were anymore. I was, for lack of a better description, numb. I didn't feel much of anything. I was going through the motions of life, but more as an observer of my life than a participant. Each day was its own to-do list, and I was simply checking off the boxes only to go to bed, wake up, and do it again.

By July, some major tensions had surfaced in my life. And, in my emotionally immature state, I dealt with those tensions very poorly. Anytime multiple humans are involved, learning how to understand your emotions and grow in emotional maturity is going to be a painful learning curve for everyone involved. Yet, nothing is ever wasted. In her book, The Emotionally Healthy Woman, Geri Scazzero (a spiritual formation leader) explains that "...emotions can be teachers sent from God" and "the family of feelings around sadness" such as loneliness, hurt, discouragement, depression, and gloominess, are the "greatest teachers of all." I was about to get schooled by sadness.

The year between July 2019 and July 2020 was one of the saddest years of my life. Not because of any one traumatic event or loss, but because it was so filled with small losses and disappointments that there seemed to be very little room for much else. Certainly there were some wonderful moments. I was never without joyful things happening in life. However, there was this underlying, nagging sadness that clung to me despite my best attempts to break free of it. The real problem was I didn't understand that I wasn't going to get rid of it. I wasn't supposed to.

My relationship with sadness was significantly distorted. I relate deeply to what Scazzero writes on the subject. She says, "My relationship with sadness was as inhumane and unbiblical as my relationship with anger. When feelings of sadness arose, I quickly covered over them and moved on. They were inhumane because I denied the pain that comes with living in a fallen world...The problem was that I had a lot to be sad about."

She goes on to talk about an unspoken rule she grew up with that "to be sad is to be weak" and "to be weak is bad." Like Geri, I grew up (even into my adult years) believing that being sad, especially for long periods of time, was a sign of spiritual weakness. That I wasn't "choosing joy" or "trusting God" enough if I was in such a sad state. No matter how much I tried to pray it away, the heaviness continued. In September 2019 I broke. Yet another disappointing loss came my way, and something in me cracked. It was as if I had finally given myself permission to feel, but then when I did, what I felt terrified me. It was grief. I was finally starting to let myself grieve the losses I had experienced. Not just recent losses, but all the stored up losses I had tucked away in my soul from the previous 30+ years.

I hadn't realized until that point that loss was not an invader in my "normal" life, but rather a part of life. As Scazzero writes in her book, I was discovering that:

"People we love die. Relationships are severed. Doors close. Dreams are dashed. We relocate. We say good-bye to a church or community. Abuse robs us of our innocence. We accomplish a goal and have to say farewell to a process that got us there. We age and lose our health. Our children grow up. Over the span of our lives, we will leave everything behind."

This is real life. It is sad. And I was realizing that I didn't know how to talk about sadness or disappointments. Instead of digging in, I numbed out. I realized that from my early adult years up until that point I had used various numbing techniques. Alcohol, food, work, social media scrolling, to name a few. But then, something shifted in me. I truly believe it was the soul care work I was doing. It was like the soul care pulled the plug on a bathtub and all the dirty bathwater was finally free to come out. I suddenly felt I had been given permission to grieve. I began to grieve childhood wounds and unmet expectations. I grieved severed relationships. I grieved lost opportunities. I grieved lost security. I grieved deaths and challenging parenting situations, and health limitations.

You'd think with all that grieving I would have felt worse. But, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I was free. I didn't have to fear losses or disappointments or sadness anymore. I could allow myself to experience them fully as they came. I didn't have to label sadness as bad. I accepted it, embraced it as a gift even. It made me a better human. More compassionate, empathetic, understanding. Geri Scazzero says that "If you are not honest about your true feelings, you will be stunted in your spiritual growth with God and limited in your relationships." But, when we accept all of our emotions, "we protect ourselves from needless inner conflict between what we are truly feeling and the voices telling us that we shouldn't be feeling those things." She adds, "When we accept all of our emotions, it is the beginning of making peace with ourselves."

And it truly was just the beginning for me!

In part three I'll share more about what happened next.

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Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Hey there,

I'm back.

It's been a long, long while since I last published a post on the Blog. I guess you could say I've been in a transition season, a bit of a spiritual pilgrimage, if you will. And after the last year, I'm more convinced than ever before that it's truly impossible to be healthy when we are spiritually unhealthy. Everything, ultimately, hinges on our spiritual health. Our spiritual health impacts our emotional health, most obviously, which, in turn, affects our mental and physical health. Which, as I'm sure many of you know, affects our relational and vocational health. Which, then impacts both our financial and communal health.

Did you catch that?

The level of our spiritual health directly and indirectly impacts every single other facet of our health. Throughout the last year, I realized just how much it was true in my own life.

For me, the year of soul-searching was not about the big spiritual questions of whether there is a God, or whether God is good. I already believed those things. I had been enjoying the freedom of being forgiven for years. Yet, despite having spiritual peace, my soul was filled with untended wounds. I was in dire need of some soul care.




(rewind to September 2019)

As I sent my resume and cover letter off into cyberspace, I felt a wave of satisfaction knowing I was a good candidate for the job. There's a good chance there was a bit of arrogance mixed up in that wave as well. I was proud of what I had accomplished throughout my career thus far, and I fully anticipated those accomplishments would coast me into whatever job I chose next. Just to be clear, optimism is not typically my thing. I definitely tend to be a glass half empty type of person. So, to feel so sure of an outcome was definitely not my norm. I never count my chickens before the eggs hatch, yet, there I was, counting away. Almost immediately, I received a reply that I had been selected for an interview. And, aside from my legs sweating profusely to the chair during the interview, it went well. I left feeling at peace with whatever the outcome was going to be. What I didn't realize was that I actually had peace because of the certainty I felt about getting the position. I had peace with my plans. I had peace with my direction for the future. You can imagine what a surprise it was, then, when the call came and instead of "congratulations" I was on the receiving end of an "I'm sorry it's not going to work out to hire you" conversation.

Rejection is such a tricky emotion.

And until that moment, I had no idea how ill-equipped I was in dealing with disappointment. It quickly became evident that I had some unresolved issues that desperately needed to be worked through. It was an ugly couple of weeks. I felt like a failure, inadequate, foolish, unskilled, like someone who had nothing worth contributing to anyone. I now know none of those thoughts were rooted in truth, but at the time, they felt very real, and seemed entirely valid and justified. Not getting hired for a job would typically not have knocked me back so hard, but the job rejection was the capstone to a whole slew of disappointments I had never actually taken the time to process. As I worked through these feelings throughout the last year, I discovered I was looking in all the wrong places for my identity. Which brings me back to spiritual health. I'm sure many of you have heard of social scientist Brené Brown. She is a brilliant leader in the field of healing from shame and dysfunctional thinking. I love what she has to say about difficult disappointments. In one of her books, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she writes, "If we want to be able to move through the difficult disappointments, the hurt feelings, and the heartbreaks that are inevitable in a fully lived life, we can't equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging and joy. If we do, we'll never show up and try again."

I realized that is what I was doing, what I had been doing for my entire adult life. I had been equating disappointment and rejection with being unworthy of love, unworthy of joy. And I had gotten myself to a point of not wanting to show up or try again. Which, might I add, is not a good place to be.

“I had been equating disappointment and rejection with being unworthy of love, unworthy of joy. And I had gotten myself to a point of not wanting to show up or try again.”

Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was part of a small community of women whose encouragement and friendship carried me through that season. We were reading through a book together called Soul Care, and the first chapter was focused completely on identity. Through our time together I realized so much of my identity was tied to how things turned out, how I was perceived by others, how I felt. All things that are not secure in the slightest. We don't control how things turn out. We don't control how we are perceived by others. And we don't control how we feel. Yes, we certainly do have control over what we do with our feelings. But we don't have much control over what we feel. The more I understood this, the more I was able to see how I had gotten to a place of such insecurity. I, essentially, didn't know who I was. be continued...

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